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The Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos

By Archpriest Ayman Kfouf
Holy Dormition, 2015

The Dormition of the Theotokos is one of the Great Feasts of the Orthodox Church, celebrated on August 15. The word "Dormition" is a derivative from the Latin word "dormitio", which means "falling asleep."

The Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos is the commemoration of the falling asleep, burial, resurrection, and translation of the Theotokos into heaven in the body.

Historical Background of the Feast

The Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos is one of the oldest Marian feasts in the church. The roots of the feast go back to Jerusalem, where the apostles and the Christians of Jerusalem honored and kept alive the memory of the falling asleep of the Theotokos. Consequently, quickly, her empty tomb, in Gethsemane, became a destination for pilgrims from Jerusalem and the surrounding neighborhoods.

After the dogmatization of the doctrine of the Divine Motherhood of the Virgin Mary in the third Ecumenical Council of Ephesus (431), the commemoration of the falling asleep of the Theotokos became more popular amongst Christians in the vast majority of the Christian world.

In the late sixth century, in the year 588, the Emperor Maurice officially adopted the commemoration of the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos into the liturgical calendar in the entire Byzantine Empire, and commanded that it be celebrated on August 15.

In the second half of the seventh century, the feast of the Dormition appeared in the West under the influence of the East. It was accepted in Rome under Pope Sergius I (687­701), and from Rome it passed over to the rest of Europe.

The Lenten Fast: Its Rule and Spirit

by Fr. Ayman Kfouf
Great Lent 2012

I- Historical Background

Fasting is not new in the Church. Fasting had its origin in the life of our first parents Adam and Eve. Fasting was the first, and only, law given to Adam and Eve1.

The Old Testament provides an extensive record of fasts kept by the Jews as commanded by God2 and fasts, without specific commandment, in times of distress, grief or when asking for forgiveness3.

In the New Testament, the Lord Himself fasted for forty days4. He commanded His disciples to fast after His ascension5 and prescribed fasting as a spiritual weapon against evil6. After Christ’s ascension, the disciples continued to practice fasting, beside prayer, in every aspect of their apostolic lives7 and they handed down this tradition to their disciples to preserve and practice it after them.

The aforementioned scriptural examples of fasting inspired Christians to imitate them, thus fasting quickly became part of the regular Christian experience. Evidently, the earliest Christian documents show that fasting in the first five centuries took different shapes and passed through various phases of transformation until it evolved into its current form today.

The practice of fasting in the first and second centuries took the shape of complete abstention from food for a day or two8. During the third century, fasting was extended to a full week in preparation for Pascha (Easter). By the fourth century, fasting had transformed in form and length and had evolved from a one week preparation for Pascha into a forty day fast9.

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